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How family and friends can help someone with PND

family supporting mum with PND

If you are suffering from a postnatal mood disorder, having the support of a partner can be helpful.

We’ve gathered 25 tips for ways you can support an expectant or new mother who has symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Lending a hand

  • become involved in some of the day-to-day tasks related to caring for your new baby
  • try to understand your partner’s needs
  • encourage your partner to seek professional help if necessary and/or accompany her when she gets help
  • ask your partner what else you can do to help on a day-to-day basis – suggestions include:
    • doing the washing and dishes
    • cooking dinner
    • making the bed
    • giving her a break from the baby so she can have a shower or a rest

Communicating effectively

  • let your partner know what your thoughts and feelings are – bottling them up makes it more likely they’ll come out in an inappropriate way such as during an argument
  • try not to blame each other or ignore each other’s feelings
  • provide reassurance and encouragement; people with anxiety and depression are likely to be hard on themselves – telling your partner she is doing a good job from time to time can make a big difference
  • don’t always feel you need to solve your partner’s problems – sometimes just listening to what she has to say is enough
  • remind her that you love her and are there for her

Getting help

  • be aware of your own health and well-being. Make sure you exercise, relax and set aside time for yourself. If you are worried about leaving your partner alone, get a friend or relative to stay with her while you go out
  • seek professional help yourself if you feel like you are not coping or may be at risk of depression and anxiety; or call a helpline or support group
  • find someone you can talk to honestly about your feelings and how your partner’s depression or anxiety affects you – this may be a friend, a family member or a counsellor
  • attend couples’ counselling if you have the opportunity – even if you don’t think the problem has anything to do with you, you may be surprised at the long-term benefits for your relationship with your partner and your child/ren
  • get involved in any support groups offered for partners and/or new parents and discuss honestly how you are feeling

Taking time out

  • accept offers of help from friends or family members or organise for someone to help with meals, housework and the child/ren
  • plan some time together as a couple and try to do something you both enjoy

Taking it slowly

  • don’t expect your partner to feel better overnight – try to focus on any small achievements your partner makes
  • be aware that your partner may occasionally continue to be moody, upset or angry, but with treatment and support this should happen less often
  • be aware that women often lack interest in sex following childbirth, as well as when experiencing depression. It is important not to assume that your partner is no longer attracted to you. During this time, showing affection and being intimate without pressuring your partner for sex can help

Advice for family members

When women become pregnant and have children, they are expected to immediately step into the role of nurturer, comforter and supporter of their children. It’s important for family and friends to realise that expectant and new mothers need comforting, nurturing and supporting too, especially if they are experiencing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.

Family and friends can do this by:

  • spending time listening, without needing to offer solutions and advice
  • offering to look after the baby or older children or discussing other childcare options so parents can have a break
  • offering to help with cooking and cleaning without taking over these activities or expecting anything in return
  • encouraging the use of some self-care strategies such as eating well, exercising regularly and limiting drug and alcohol use
  • encouraging the woman to get further help if needed
  • fighting the urge to always give advice on how to parent, unless it is requested
  • family members and close friends of a woman who is pregnant may wish to discuss how they can be involved before the baby arrives. Getting organised early can help to reduce anxiety


Postnatal depression is very treatable and has a high rate of recovery. However, it can sometimes take many months, but if you persevere the difficulties will ease and you will be rewarded with the family you have been waiting for.


– this article kindly collated by bubhubber MuminMind


If you want someone to talk to, have a look in our comprehensive forums – there are local groups, special subject groups and an area specifically for depression.  It’s free and available 24/7

For more information and useful links, visit our Coping with Depression and Anxiety Hub

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